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Posts Tagged ‘The Book of Three’

Let me preface this blog post with the comment that I am not just in Virginia to play with a newborn and love on my friend (though those are good parts of this trip). I titled my desire to leave Maine behind for a few weeks “walk-about”, not because I would actually be walking much, but because the concept of “walk-about” is soul-searching and place-finding and self-discovery and, importantly for me, listening to God’s Voice as I process my past, deal with my present, and plan for my future. So if I sound a bit melodramatic in this rather lengthy post, know (1) that it is because I have been thinking a bit more than is perhaps normal and (2) that my melodramatic side is already fading.

During my time in Virginia I have been re-reading my favorite series: The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. They are the tales of the life of a very ordinary Assistant Pig Keeper (Taran) making mistakes and discovering life. Alexander has a unique ability to offer books full of rich moral lessons paired with fast action and loveable characters. He is the author I have learned the most from in my journey as a writer and a person.

As an introduction to The Book Of Three, Alexander writes, “Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart.” In all honesty, I have been feeling much like an Assistant Pig-Keeper completely outmatched by the vastness of life. And I mimic Taran’s words, “At home nothing ever happened. Now, everything happens. But somehow I can never seem to make it come out right.” This latest journey, and indeed much of my last couple of months, appear to ‘never come out right’ by my own doing.

There are some bittersweet moments for Taran, our young Assistant Pig-Keeper. At the end of his first adventure he says, “And I am troubled, for I wonder now if I am to be a stranger in my own home.” I guess I am somewhere in the middle of my latest adventure, somehow still pining for home and longing for a change simultaneously, unsure of myself and my own judgment, not at home at home and not at home away. There is comfort in the advice of Adaon in The Black Cauldron, “I have marched in many a battle host, but I have also planted seeds and reaped harvests with my own hands. And I have learned that there is greater honor in a field well plowed than in a field steeped with blood.” So through prayer and discovery and some bumps and bruises I have learned a bit more that both tasks (steady work at home and the labor of adventuring) have an importance place in my life. Each offers challenges and victories that should not be overlooked, leaving me with discoveries and memories I would not go without. I think part of my frustration is that I have been trying to find a home in one or the other. Now I think I see that it is the plowing and the adventuring together in which I find the direction of my life flowing. It is a unique life, full of challenges and misunderstandings on my part, but that does not make it any less right or wonderful for me.

As a summation of The Book Of Three, Taran is admonished that he has been just as impetuous and full of self-pity and a longing for the impossible as his friends have been. I must confess I see myself in this as well. On an adventure we all wish we could be the perfect, patient heroes we dream of; but truthfully, adventures are full of knee-bumps and blows and quarrels and pain, but also of joy and learning and excitement and victory. Summing it all up perhaps better than I could, Alexander writes in his introduction to The Black Cauldron, “humor and heartbreak, joy and sadness, are closely interwoven.”

So, no, walk-about has not showed me exactly where life is going, but it may have made me a bit more receptive to the concept that difficulty does not deplete the worth of something; it may, in fact, enhance it. Signing up for a life that is daunting is so much better than cowering in the shadows.

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